Massive coronal hole in the Sun! Will it impact the Earth?

Imagine a hole in our giant Sun… scary, right? Then, you will be shocked to know that this is not imaginary, but a reality! A recent image captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), run by NASA, has revealed a large ‘coronal hole’ in the southern region of our Sun’s outer atmosphere where temperatures reach around 1.1 million degrees Celsius. And, to justify your fears, the giant coronal hole in the Sun can have an impact on Earth, as it has created and shot off a stream of gaseous material, which is expected to arrive on Earth in the coming days.

The large coronal hole can impact Earth as it could cause some geomagnetic storms to happen in the planet’s magnetosphere. The plasma that is emitted from the Sun’s outermost layer contains millions of electrons and protons. These ejections from the Sun are directed at the Earth. According to Space Weather, some solar flares have already reached and more are on their way to Earth. These can cause a disturbance in the atmosphere that culminates in the visual spectacle that is the aurora borealis in some of the polar regions. The mesmerizing auroras in the sky on the North and South poles are already visible and you can expect to witness more.

Spaceweather.com says, “The display was caused by a stream of solar wind flowing from a southern hole in the sun’s atmosphere. The stream reached Earth during the late hours of Nov. 20th and is currently blowing faster than 600 km/s.”

Will this have an impact on GPS navigation?

Solar flares can affect Earth’s magnetic field. In turn, this could have an impact on GPS mapping, mobile phone transmission and satellite television signals, depending on the severity of the solar flare generated. As seen in other solar flares, these latest solar flares could also have a similar kind of effect. In addition, power grid outages are another consequence of solar flares.

However, the chances of any such negative consequences are very slim as the Earth’s magnetic field serves as a form of protection against it.

Have we seen such holes on the Sun’s surface before?

Yes, of course! Coronal holes happen on a regular basis, last time being in April, 2020. Not just this, earlier in 2018, 2016 also, a massive hole on the surface of the Sun had unleashed strong solar winds towards the Earth which resulted in the northern lights in some of the areas of the polar regions of the Earth.

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